Justin Ricklefs


Longing for Home

I sat down in the quietest corner of the Denver airport I could find. It had been a long day.

A 4:30am alarm, jump on a plane, full day of client meetings, land back in KC at 11:30pm kind of day.

With a corporate expense account, I wouldn’t have thought twice about my taxi ride from the airport to the meeting that morning.

I checked Uber and for $22, I could have gotten there. But I would have been late.

So I jumped in a taxi. Yeah, weird I know, they still have those. And 15 minutes later I was there. With a few minutes to spare.

“What do I owe you?”


Me in my head, “Uh….damn…that’s a lot…”

Me out loud, “Ok.”

A highly suggested 20% tip on the screen later, I was in it for 2.5x what the Uber trip would have been.

Running a small business, that number hurt!

But as I thought back about my day, the taxi driver’s story resonated with me.

He came to the United States when he was 17.

From Ethiopia.

He has a wife, also from Ethiopia. And two kids, 5 and 3.

Like all of us, he’s hustling and working his tail off to make life better for his two kids than what the first 17 years of his life looked like.

His upbringing was full of war, poverty, strife and uncertainty. He was so proud that his kids don’t know any of those feelings.

I asked if Uber has hurt the taxi business.

It has.

I asked him what the biggest city in Ethiopia is.

It’s Addis Ababa.

I asked him if he still has family in Ethiopia.

He does.

I asked him if he ever gets back to see them.

He doesn’t.

I asked him if he ever misses it.

He does.


Even though he told me stories of war and killings and corruption from his childhood, he’s homesick.

It’s far from a perfect place, but he longs for home deeply.

“What’s it like,” I asked him.

“It’s a beautiful country…”

I think his story is my story. I think it’s everyone’s story.

We’re all homesick.

We’re living in the middle of hard, broken, messy stories where death, disease, divorce and other damn things are more present than we’d let show on our Facebook feeds.

Yet we long for home. We yearn to get back.

Home isn’t perfect by any stretch, but the desire is deep in each of us.

And maybe the longing won’t ever be fully satisfied because none of our homes are perfect, but it’s there nonetheless. Or maybe it’s just pointing us to an ache for a forever home, when the brokenness won’t be broken anymore.

I wonder what that will be like.

I think it will be a beautiful country…

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